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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Long Temple Pendant

Object Name:
early 20th century
Attributed to Central Asia or Iran
Silver, fire-gilded and chased, with decorative wire, applied and openwork decoration, connecting links with applied decoration, embossed pendants, and table-cut carnelians
25 7/8 x 4 5/16 in. (65.7 x 11 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, 2009
Accession Number:
Not on view
Adamlik Temple Pendants (MMA 2009.530.6a, b, MMA 2013.968.2a, b, MMA 2016.714.13, and MMA 2008.579.5)

Extremely long temple pendants (up to two feet in length), which are attached to headdresses and hang down on either side of the head, are among the most striking Turkmen ornaments. Nineteenth-century engravings depicting women wearing this elaborate parure show that they are almost hidden by the ornaments and overwhelmed by their weight and sheer volume.

In their construction, length, proportions, and materials, Turkmen temple pendants bear a striking resemblance to early twentieth-century Mongol headgear.[26] Two types of temple ornaments can be distinguished. The adamlik presents a single unit composed of a triangular element surmounted by an ovoid form, from which falls a cascade of silver chains linking embossed roundels and bells terminating in bells or leaf-shaped pendants. Although the pendants are relatively lightweight, the effect they create is remarkably sumptuous and regal, as they shimmer in the light. The many examples of this type in the Wolf collection illustrate the variety and creativity of this jewelry tradition: the upper elements are decorated in Yomut style with small-scale appliqués; in Teke style with fire gilding and chased designs; and in Kazakh style with pseudogranulation and table-cut and glass-backed stones. The long chains are generally composed of delicate repeats in different configurations.

The term adamlik, meaning man- or woman-like, refers to the upper unit, whose form has been interpreted as the body of a woman and whose function has been proposed as amuletic. The upper units of no. 2013.968.2a, b, for example, evoke a female shape with flowing hair, shoulders, waist, and bell-shaped skirt. Similar shapes are sometimes found in Central Asian embroidered textiles.[27] The anthropomorphic interpretation of these pieces must be viewed with skepticism, however, since it may reflect a modern, not contemporary, understanding. Close examination of these units, particularly in their tenechir form (see MMA 2007.497.2a, b and 2005.443.2a, b), suggest that a vegetal origin may be just as likely.

Layla S. Diba in [Diba 2011]


26. Boyer, Martha H. Mongol Jewelry; Jewelry Collected by the First and Second Danish Central Asian Expeditions. Rev. ed. London, 1995, p. 80, fig. 54.

27. See Grube, Ernst. Keshte: Central Asian Embroideries. New York, 2003, p. 14, fig. 43.
Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, Toronto, Canada (by 2006–9; gifted to MMA)
Diba, Layla S. "Silver Ornaments from the Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection." In Turkmen Jewelry. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 25, pp. 70-71, ill. p. 70 (color).

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